The almanac

By United Press International

Today is Sunday, Feb. 8, the 39th day of 2009 with 326 to follow.

The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The evening stars are Venus, Uranus and Neptune.


Those born on this date are under the sign of Aquarius. They include Civil War Gen. William Sherman in 1820; pioneer science fiction writer Jules Verne in 1828; Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleyev, who devised the periodic table, in 1834; actress Edith Evans in 1888; film director King Vidor in 1894; Chester Carlson, inventor of the Xerox copying process, in 1906; actress Lana Turner in 1920; actors Jack Lemmon in 1925 and James Dean in 1931; composer/conductor John Williams in 1932 (age 77); television journalist Ted Koppel in 1940 (age 69); actor Nick Nolte in 1941 (age 68); comedian Robert Klein in 1942 (age 67); actress Mary Steenburgen in 1953 (age 56); author John Grisham in 1955 (age 54); and actor Gary Coleman in 1968 (age 41).


On this date in history:

In 1587, Mary Queen of Scots was beheaded, charged with conspiring to kill England's Queen Elizabeth I.

In 1725, Peter the Great, emperor of Russia, died and was succeeded by his wife, Catherine.

In 1910, the United States became the 12th nation to join the international scouting movement.

In 1940, Nazis shot every 10th person in two Polish villages near Warsaw in reprisal for the deaths of two German soldiers.

In 1974, three U.S. Skylab astronauts ended an 84-day orbital flight.

In 1987, a 60-day cease-fire ended between the Philippine army and communist rebels. Twenty-eight people died in truce violations.

In 1992, the Winter Olympics opened in Albertville, France.

In 1993, a chartered passenger plane collided with a military aircraft over the Iranian capital of Tehran, killing at least 132 people and strewing bodies across a military base as Iran celebrated Air Force Day.

Also in 1993, General Motors announced it was suing NBC-TV, contending the network rigged a demonstration crash showing a GM pickup truck with "sidesaddle" fuel tank exploding into flames.

In 1995, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously to send 7,000 peacekeepers to Angola to maintain peace in the African nation.


In 2002, the Olympic Winter Games opened in Salt Lake City.

In 2003, Syria and Israel exchanged fire for the first time in 29 years in a dispute over a Syrian civilian killed in the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.

In 2004, U.S. President George Bush acknowledged in a TV interview that he might have been wrong in claiming before the war that Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. But, he said, "I expected to find the weapons."

Also in 2004, a published report said more than 10,000 civilians, many of them women and children, had been killed in the Iraqi conflict.

And in 2004 entertainment, Beyonce was a five-time winner at the Grammy Awards, tying the record for most Grammys by a female artist.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas declared a truce in hostilities.

In 2006, U.S. agents joined an investigation into a rash of arson incidents that damaged nine rural Alabama churches in five days.

Also in 2006, police opened fire on an Afghanistan mob protesting a series of published cartoons that depict the Prophet Mohammed, killing four protesters and raising the death toll there to 11.

And, an eight-year federal study said a low-fat diet doesn't decrease the risk of heart disease, cancer or stroke.


In 2007, Anna Nicole Smith, a 39-year-old actress, model and tabloid fixture, was found dead in a Hollywood, Fla., hotel. Her death was attributed to accidental sedative overdose.

Also in 2007, the warring Palestinian political factions, Hamas and Fatah, attempted to end the violence with a unity government.

In 2008, a man at odds with city officials went on a shooting rampage at a Kirkwood, Mo., City Council meeting, killing five people, police said. Officers shot and killed the suspect, identified as Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, an independent contractor.

Also in 2008, an explosion rocked the Imperial Sugar Co. facility at Fort Wentworth, Ga., near Savannah. Four people were reported killed and about 30 others were injured,

A thought for the day: Booker T. Washington said, "Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed."

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